How Cecil B. Moore's "Philadelphia Freedom Fighters" Changed Their City

protestors marching with signs
Via Flickr
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
January 6, 2022

Civil rights lawyer and politician Cecil B. Moore served as president of the NAACP’s Philadelphia branch during the 1960s. Over time, he tried 300,000 cases. But his fight to desegregate THIS college would be the toughest one yet!

In 1965, Girard College in Philadelphia refused to integrate, even after segregation was made illegal. Outraged by the government ignoring this injustice, Moore’s approach shifted from “We Shall Overcome” to “We Shall Overrun!” 

Beginning May 1st, 1965, the NAACP, led by Moore, peacefully protested outside the college. They were soon joined by MLK and hundreds of local Black residents. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t remain peaceful.

Philadelphia's police commissioner, called “Racist Rizzo,” instructed officers to “bust up” the demonstration! Officers chased, trampled, and beat protestors, many of whom were Black teenagers. 

But the protesters wouldn’t back down.

After seven months, their efforts forced the Supreme Court to reconsider the case, integrating the college by 1968

50 years later, Moore’s legacy lives on throughout Philadelphia’s streets, programs, and murals honoring the “Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters.”

Moore used his political power to push a Black agenda. We have to elect officials who do the same! Pay attention to what’s on a politician’s agenda – and hold them accountable once elected!

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